Rested from the La Liga clash against Huesca, FC Barcelona put on an average performance which saw the Spanish leaders draw bottom-ranked team on Saturday. Despite walking away with a goalless draw, Barcelona went in without their key players which included Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, Gerard Pique, Ivan Rakitic and Sergio Busquets.
Coach Ernesto Valverde went into the clash fielding an unrecognisable playing XI which drew Huesca, reducing the gap between Barca and Atletico Madrid from 11 points to 9.
Senegal right-back Wague and French defender Jean-Clair Todibo, made their debuts, while midfielder Riqui Puig, made his first appearance in the league.
With Messi out of the squad, Barcelona had a tough time against Huesca which included players such as Arturo Vidal, Samuel Umtiti, Philippe Coutinho and Malcolm.
On the draw, Vidal said that the players are only thinking about the UEFA Champions League quarters clash with Manchester United at Camp Nou.
“I think all of us who played today, and those who didn’t were thinking about the game on Tuesday. It is going to be difficult to get a good result against Manchester,” said Arturo Vidal, one of the few regular players to start for Barcelona. “The league is our objective and the Champions (League) would be a dream.”
Despite boasting of a strong team in total, Messi’s absence sees a major difference for Barcelona. With all eyes for European success, Barcelona are gunning for the Champions League but do face a bolstered Manchester United in the second leg of the quarters clash.
Messi will be available for the clash against United along with the other star players but a win won’t come easy despite taking a 1-0 lead in the first leg at Old Trafford. For the Red Devils, Matic may come into the squad along with Barca’s former player, Alexis Sanchez.
Atletico Madrid beat Celta Vigo through Antoine Griezmann’s brace, consolidating their place in the second spot.
At third are Real Madrid who are slowly crawling their way back into the league.